Quebec law outlaws English-only titles if French versions exist [update]

[Update: We've clarified the exact implications of the law -- English-only titles are affected if there is a French version available, which is now given preference. We apologize for any confusion caused.]

Beginning today, if you live in Quebec and want to buy a game that doesn't contain any French text or voice-over while alternate (read: French) versions exist -- you can't. You'll have to wait until the existing French version becomes available in store, which, in many cases, can take weeks or months.

The Toronto Star reports that the new law is meant to "promote and protect the French language." The paper spoke with one retailer who says that goal carries a high price. "I'm afraid it's going to cost me my business," said Ronnie Rondeau, who owns eight Game Buzz stores in Montreal. "If it really was going to make a difference, I'd be for it, but only a small number of people want to play in French."

Quebec's government threatened legal action against Nintendo and Sony in 1999 if the companies did not begin including a French language option in games (and game manuals) they published in the territory. The companies complied, and many third-parties produce French localizations of their games -- but work often isn't started until after the English version ships.

Even the head of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, Danielle Parr, admitted to the paper that French-language games -- designed for release in France -- may never make it to Quebec due to the province's relatively small market. It seems that if you want to play those English-only games on time, you'll have to hope that there isn't a French version available at all.

[Via GamePolitics]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.